Menuwatch: Paris House

08 May 2015
Menuwatch: Paris House

Paris House faced an uncertain future after the collapse of 10 in 8 Group, but Phil Fanning has resurrected it, putting a new, exotic twist on the menu. Katherine Alano reports

Four years later, it was sold after one of its subsidiaries, Paris House Restaurant Ltd, entered liquidation, owing more than £400,000 to creditors in December 2013. It was after this upheaval that its then head chef Phil Fanning (pictured below) and his wife Claire decided to take it on as a family business, backed by father-in-law and businessman Nik Millard.

Remarkably, given its turbulent recent past, Paris House has maintained the Michelin star status it picked up in 2011 and has also been awarded three AA rosettes and 5/10 in The Good Food Guide, demonstrating that, despite the changes to management, the food continues to be at the heart of the business.

Speaking to The Caterer in 2013, Fanning said: "I am delighted to have been given 
the opportunity to own and run it as a family business and I am fortunate to be backed by 
a very talented and creative team. Together 
we look forward to further developing our menus and welcoming yet more customers through our doors."

Fanning and his team of six chefs have moved away from the classic French style the restaurant had adopted when it was first taken over by the 10 in 8 Group to a more Asian-influenced menu, but the transition was far from instantaneous. "The menu change has not been a snap change," says Fanning. "We have been slowly introducing more exotic ingredients since day one.

"When we first opened, we had a client 
base that was very traditional. As the months and years have gone by, we have defined our style more and we're happy and excited with what we are putting on the menu, which 
is now more Asian and globally influenced," he explains.

Sea bass ceviche with black quinoa

Paris House, with 25 covers in the main 
dining room, only offers tasting menus:
six-course (£39 per person - lunch only), eight-course (£82 per person) and 10-course (£99 per person). Matching wine flights start at £32.

A 14-course tasting menu is also on offer 
at the chef's table, as well as seasonal menus for private dining customers and a five-course Sunday lunch menu.

Asian-inspired dishes, such as tom yum with steamed duck gyoza and squid noodles, tonkotsu broth with pork, scallop, white miso, shiitake and coconut and the Peruvian dish of leche de tigre sit alongside more classical-based ingredients such as Aylesbury escargots, smoked Jersey Royals, spring cabbage and gracilaria (seaweed), and Anjou pigeon, turnip, almond and black fig. The menu changes regularly according to the seasons, but the changes are drip-fed on and off in a fluid way, says Fanning.

Foie gras with peach and orange

Desserts include rhubarb, elderflower meringue, ricotta and mint, and Japanese peach, black bean and mandarin. A Thai green curry dessert is a favourite of Fanning and one he has evolved over the years with head chef Paul Lobban. It comprises a spherification of sweet Thai green curry sauce, served with marinated pineapple, coconut and yuzu purée, lime and mint gel, coconut crisp and coriander. "It's all the flavours of a Thai green curry, but without the chicken, and sweetened with palm sugar," says Fanning. "It offers an exciting end to the meal - one guests often talk about."

Fanning sources a lot of his ingredients from local supplier AB Fruits and hits the Asian supermarkets for his more exotic finds. Both he and Lobban are fans of Asian cuisine, because the ingredients are "fresh and light, with a lot of vibrant flavours that we reflect in our dishes". By using ingredients that are
less commonly found, it makes it easier to 
create dishes that are distinct and interesting, Fanning adds.

Crab, cucumber, fennel and malt

From the menu

Sample dishes from the 10-course tasting menu (£99)

  • Crab, cucumber, fennel and malt
  • Red mullet, chargrilled octopus, bulgur wheat, preserved lemon and tomato
  • Sicilian red prawn, sauce Romesco, pine kernel and Bella di Cerignola
  • Rhubarb, elderflower meringue, ricotta and mint
  • Cherry, burnt white chocolate and rose

Paris House

Woburn Park

London Road

Woburn MK17 9QP

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